Peter John Beyfus

Reality Check!

“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.” Martin Luther King Jr.

Only the most naïve person would believe fighting an urban war is going to be free of civilian casualties. Hamas has embedded itself in public buildings and has a network of underground tunnels that are stockpiled with armaments, food and fuel. This subterranean labyrinth  provides shelter for Hamas terrorists to  take refuge, enabling combatants to launch hit and run operations against the IDF but providing rat holes when the heat becomes too intense. 

The French President Emmanuel Macron has called upon Israel to stop killing women and babies while grudgingly acknowledging Hamas’ attack on Israeli citizens on October 7. These unhelpful and inflammatory comments  have the same objective as Justin Trudeau’s assumption that it was an IDF missile  that hit the al-Ahli Arab hospital when, in fact, it was a misfire by Islamic Jihad, to appease the Muslim electorate, thus exposing the glaring bias of some western leaders.

It  is this blatant anti-Israel rhetoric that causes such anger and frustration among people who look at the facts for what they are rather than through the prism of political dogma. The main problem with those who avowedly condemn Israel and by their immoderate language endorse antisemitic sentiments is failure to reflect on their own national history.

The French under Clemenceau exacted very harsh terms in the Treaty of Versailles, making the German aggressor pay heavily for the damage inflicted on France during the First World War. In the battles to secure victory in the Second World War, the allies were responsible for countless numbers of civilian casualties in the race to capture Berlin. The Americans in fighting ISIS in Iraq engaged in urban warfare, again resulting in the deaths of civilians, and the ongoing war in the Ukraine is also witnessing the tragic consequences of fighting in towns and cities; the Wagner group fighters are expert in urban warfare and they have not achieved the impossible: no civilian deaths, it claims! but that doesn’t seem to worry this force too much.

And that is the difference between a mercenary army like Wagner and the IDF. The latter subscribes to a moral compass that values life, takes no joy in killing innocent people, is govern by ethical  laws that are central to Judaism and which have been valued, until relatively recently, by the West as part of its Judaeo-Christian tradition. Now, because of a shift toward secularism, proliferation of social media churning out misinformation and disinformation, the ascendancy of the hard-left, masquerading as liberalism,  and increased Islamic influence, the West has abandoned any sense of moral integrity.

Since the Hamas attack of October 7, there have been weekly pro-Palestinian demonstrations on the streets of London. What has been missing from the vociferous protestors, who claim their sole concern is humanitarian, is any condemnation of  Hamas for the atrocities of 7 October and a demand for the release of more than 240 hostages taken at gunpoint. Within a month of the attack in Israel, Hamas’ actions have been sanitised. The question for these protestors, supported by at least two Gauleiters from the British extreme Left, is would they have advocated, given their great concern for civilians, stopping  the allies advance on Berlin, the Russia counter-offensive to lift the siege of Leningrad, and called for inaction against ISIS, thus perpetuating the existence of what the majority of people around the world regard as a thoroughly evil ideology? One would hope the answer would be an emphatic no, but that is speculative!

For 75 years, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been part of the world’s political landscape, every so often erupting to take centre stage. In 1947 the UN voted in favour of the establishment of a Jewish state. At that time the Soviet Union lent support to the aspirations of Zionists, no doubt in order to influence  nascent  Israel to support the Soviet Union’s opposition to perceived western ambitions in the Middle East. Since then, the UN has become increasingly hostile toward Israel, ostensibly because of the occupation of territory taken in the wars Israel was forced to fight against hostile neighbours. These lands have formed buffet zones, affording some protection from Arab attacks, have always been on the table for negotiation; Sinai was returned to Egypt in 1982 as part of a peace treaty. Syria could have secured the return of the Golan Heights if she had wanted to make peace with Israel, and the Palestinians, or more correctly the Arabs living in the former  British mandate of Palestine, could have had their own state many years ago by entering into genuine peace talks with Israel but instead chose continuing hostility. The surrounding Arab nations while claiming brotherly love for those living in the West Bank and Gaza were happy to sit back while these people were intimidated and controlled by extremists. It suited the Arab states for the Palestinians to be a thorn in the side of Israel; the truth is, after Palestinians were allowed into Jordan with the result of open conflict between various groups in that country, including the Jordanians reclaiming control of their country, none of the Arab states want to import the Palestinian problem. So, the best and only hope the Palestinians have is to come to an accommodation with Israel – long overdue but, perhaps, this war has made them realise there are no other options.

There is a growing demand for Israel to be accused of war crimes, citing the number of Palestinian casualties, provided by the Palestinian Health Authority that we all know  is  under the control of the  propaganda savvy Hamas. However, unlike Hamas and Hezbollah Israel gives warning to civilians to evacuate those areas targeted by the IDF. Israel and other democratic states, such as the USA and Britain, does its utmost to minimise civilian casualties. The clamour to punish Israel for exercising its acknowledged right, under international law, to self-defence is symptomatic of the move to discredit the state, making it a pariah, thus undermining its ability to protect its own people against terrorist attacks. One can imagine what reaction there would have been if after the Second World War Germany and its allies had accused Britain, Russia and the USA of war crimes. Remind me, who was the aggressor? Those keen to press charges of using undue force or deliberately targeting civilians have a very difficult case to prove. Yes, the UN, given its present complexion, will most likely vote, affirming Israel is guilty of war crimes, only to be nullified by the USA. So where does this leave the much vaunted Abraham Accords?

Short answer: in a very sorry state! Israel entered these agreements in good faith, perhaps, foolishly, believing Arab states would be willing to accept Israel had an absolute right to retaliate and to have supported her call for the release of the hostages; but the opposite has occurred, with nothing but unmitigated condemnation of Israel, arguing she brought this terrorist attack on herself and there are no grounds for sympathy. The much hoped for agreement with Saudi Arabia is now in cold storage, and the value of these “understandings” with Arab states may need to be reassessed. Certainly, the only ephemeral benefit to Israel has been the recognition of its right to exist by a limited number of Arab states, but that is, clearly, constantly up for review.  Am Yisrael Chai!

About the Author
Peter John Beyfus is an historian, published author, poet, and a person who prides himself on “thinking outside the box”. I have written many essays on Jewish themes, published in various journals, including ‘Wessex Jewish News’ and ‘Westminster Quarterly’, the magazine of Westminster Synagogue, London.
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